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Distant Worlds 2 - Fleet Update Development Blog #1

Published on November 08, 2023

Hi everyone,

Since the release of Distant Worlds 2, we have been working diligently both to resolve reported issues with the game as well as make consistent improvements and feature additions through a series of free updates.  The most recent was the “Discovery” update in early September, which came along with the Gizurean and Quameno DLC.  Since then, we’ve been working on a new official update for you all, which we are calling the “Fleet” update.  We have also been working on our next major expansion, the Return of the Shakturi, which will for the first time add a proper end game crisis to Distant Worlds 2 in 2024.

The “Fleet” update will release on November 13th and will be our last expected official update for 2023.  It includes many improvements across all areas of the game, but focuses most on the area of improving fleet and ship behavior in almost every way.  We’ve heard the feedback that there were still frustrations with how fleets and ships responded to certain circumstances, especially where manual orders and automation interact. 

It also brings along a bunch of crash fixes, performance improvements and UI improvements, but I will focus this article mainly on the fleet and ship improvements. We had made many improvements to fleet and ship behavior over time, but it became clear that we needed a deeper dive in this area to make sure we were able to fully resolve the remaining reported issues.  This turned out to be a major endeavour which took two months of development time as we went through every fleet or ship behavior-related issue in our backlog.  The result is that fleets that behave much better for all manual/automated playstyle choices and also for the AI empires.

While investigating Fleet Movement, we resolved a number of issues which could cause movement orders to not be completed in a timely fashion, cause problems with ship collisions and fleet formations, or result in excessive short range jumps or jumps inside planetary bodies.

When looking at Fleet Engagement issues, we resolved bugs that could cause fleets to sometimes attack targets beyond their engagement range, or cause them to not break off attacks before moving well beyond their engagement range.  Ships now are also better at considering all their weapons when deciding on their optimal attack range.  We also resolved issues where fleets that were preparing or regrouping would sometimes wait too long before progressing their attack mission, even if combat was already underway and fleets are more intelligent about deciding how many of their ships they really need to take on a specific target.

There were various cases where Capture missions could fail.  We improved the logic around this and made the assault strength of fleets and ships more visible, to make it obvious when a fleet or ship was able to take on a Capture mission.

Many issue reports involved cases where fleets were not choosing strategic targets as well as they should or not being as responsive to player queued targets as we would like.  This general area took up much of our time.  We addressed these issues from various angles and fleets are now much more responsive to player queued targets as well as more intelligent when automated in choosing their own targets.  Fleets will now pay more attention to refueling to extend their attack range and not get unnecessarily distracted with other lower priority targets.  There were also some cases where fleet targets in hyperspace could cause odd behavior – those have been resolved.  

We also found an instance where ships that were in fleets were not using the full tactical logic to evaluate when they could take on targets individually, which could lead to some unfortunate kamikaze-style attacks – also now resolved.  We also found an issue that could incorrectly trigger the fleet retreat logic, causing fleets to become much more indecisive and reassign targets too often in certain situations.  That issue could affect both the tactical and strategic levels and has been fixed.

Another complaint was the situation where an enemy fleet was incoming to a friendly system, but an automated defense fleet might choose to take on another target of opportunity and leave the system.  That will no longer happen if the defense fleet knows an enemy fleet is on the way to their location.

Invasion fleets and invasions also got an overhaul, to improve their ability to coordinate with attack fleets instead of embarking on invasions on their own and to make sure they were more responsive to invasion needs rather than focusing too much on loading and unloading troops within the empire.

Automated fleet formation and organization had some remaining issues which could cause fleets to not correctly match their fleet templates or cause fleets to become more strung out over time.  There were various causes for this, all of which have been resolved.  These fixes help keep fleets together better and keep unwanted ships out of fleets.

Fleet and ship refueling, including fuel tankers, has always been a complex area.  We’ve made more improvements to fuel tanker behavior especially, to make sure that retrofits won’t cause refueling issues, that fuel tankers will coordinate with each other when choosing which is best positioned to refuel a fleet and that they will better avoid dangerous locations when keeping up with and refueling the fleets they are attached to.  Fuel tankers will no longer seek to refuel ships that are currently on an attack mission, to better avoid danger, but they will refuel them before and after that mission.

Some non-military ships were still being careless about certain dangerous locations, especially those with ancient hostile bases.  They are now much more aware of the threat and will avoid it.  Colonization ships also had some remaining interactions that could cause less than optimal choices and those are now resolved both for manual and queued semi-automated colonization.

Finishing up the fleet and ship improvements, we found that in certain cases the empire logic would not update its knowledge quickly enough after a new world or mining stations was captured, leading the invading/attacking fleets and ships to have a long trip back to another location to refuel when they should have refueled on the spot.  By forcing an update of the empire logic when such events happen, we should no longer see that issue.

I’ll also note that in related UI improvements, we now allow ship multi-select for all civilian ships as well and when you re managing your manual designs or troops, manually upgrading a design will now automatically disable Auto-Upgrading for that ship hull and manually setting troop garrisons will now automatically disable auto-garrison for the colony.  We also fixed the click-through issue which could sometimes unintentionally assign an order to a selected ship or fleet when right clicking on the navigation panel in the Research screen.

We finally found and fixed the rare issue that could cause a stack of waiting messages to suddenly expire and be wiped from existence and we fixed the message spam that could happen when you destroy a pirate faction.

A few last important improvements include that automated troop recruitment now focuses on recruiting one troop at a time on a given world, completing recruitment of any existing troop before queuing a new one, thus minimizing sudden economic swings.  We also fixed an issue that could cause only the most recent repeatable tech improvement to apply for certain techs and added the ability to abandon a colony.  We also improved the AI for some population policies, mainly Resettle, which helps reduce the burden on the player and improves the play of the AI.

Finally, we have made a number of improvements to the base game data and events as well as including some fixes for the two DLCs we’ve released to date.  Please note that the data and event fixes will only be available when starting a new game.

We hope the Fleet update will greatly improve your enjoyment of Distant Worlds 2!  We are proceeding with work on the Shakturi expansion as well as another official update for Q1 2024, which will include our first two updated base game factions (the Humans and the Mortalen, with the Boskara and Zenox following soon thereafter).

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